Today’s find: Tracks

I make the same trek almost every weekday, but this morning, I noticed that my journey left a distinct set of tracks.

No great mystery there: Alone among the people who live in this neighborhood, I decided to venture out – predawn – into what was the latest disappointing experience of “snowmaggedon.” (We didn’t get dumped on nearly as much as the various TV Storm Teams said we might.)

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Sometimes, we are blessed by tracks that others might not even notice…

These “low snow totals” notwithstanding, I might well have followed my neighbors’ lead…and stay snuggled warm in my bed…if not for some long-ago promises I’d made to open up our church building and proclaim the Word at daily Mass today.

I half-expected it to be a short trip: Maybe no one else would show up at church…and I could just turn around and go home. Alas, our celebrant arrived shortly after I did…followed by exactly two other brave (foolhardy?) souls, a few minutes later.

So Mass went on as scheduled – just the four of us – and the modest turnout morphed into an unexpected blessing, when in the relative quiet I started noticing things in a familiar passage of scripture that I’d never noticed before.

Today as church we celebrate the conversion of St. Paul, so the first reading recounts the details of that story as it’s told in Acts 22. In reading this passage aloud, I was intrigued to detect two distinct sets of tracks – a pair of minor paths, as it were, paving the way for Paul’s headliner experience on the Road to Damascus.

The first of these footprints were set down by a good and holy man in Jerusalem:

At the feet of Gamaliel I [Paul] was educated strictly in our ancestral law…

The second bore witness to the impact of Gamaliel’s counterpart in Damascus:

A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law, and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there…

And I thought to myself, how might this dramatic conversion experience have played out in Paul’s life, if not for the gentle (and almost unnoticed) influence of Ananias and Gamaliel – his “A & G”?

Then I thought of my own “A & G” – Ambrose and Gertrude, my paternal grandparents, among the very first people with whom I shared Eucharistic bread at daily Mass some six decades ago. Their love, and their love of the Lord, had surely left an indelible mark on my life.

Today, with a little assist from St. Paul, I thought I recognized their tracks…and then gave thanks to “the same Christ, our Lord” (using the words I remember my grandfather saying)…bathed in the faith and righteousness that my dear A & G had helped hand on to me.


Thanks, Ambrose & Gertrude…and Mom and Dad…for sharing your love of the Lord with me!

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.


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